Las Vegas is showing very little hometown love to its Golden Knights on Saturday night.
The Golden Knights are mere (-115) favorites on the moneyline (87/100 in London odds) to beat the ailing Florida Panthers at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers’ moneyline is (-105) at MyBookie in a face-off with a (5.5) Over/Under total.
It’s no secret that the nascent Las Vegas NHL team is not showing the form of its miraculous maiden campaign in 2017-18. The Golden Knights nearly made history by becoming the first expansion-year team to win the Stanley Cup, but fell just short, losing to the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Handicapping the Knights by Day
By contrast, the 2018-19 Golden Knights are 29-20 with 4 overtime losses, not a poor record, but only good for 3rd place in the Pacific Division behind the leading Calgary Flames and runner-up San Jose Sharks.
It doesn’t help that the Golden Knights have lost 3 games in a row, while Florida clobbered San Jose 6-2 on January 21st.
Blue Line Blues
Golden Knight defensemen are allowing too many quality chances on star goaltender Marc-André Fleury, who is struggling to maintain the effectiveness he carried throughout 2017-18.
“Flower” has a solid .911 save percentage and 2.49 GAA after 45 starts, but the squad followed a powerhouse 7-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 4-2 January 21st loss to Minnesota in which Fleury gave up 3 goals on just 21 shots. Following the NHL All-Star Break, the club was blown away 5-2 in Carolina.
Another reason that the betting odds seem overly-generous to Florida is that the Panthers are playing on back-to-back nights, having lost to Nashville 4-1 on Friday. Filip Forsberg of the Predators notched 3 assists as veteran Cats’ goaltender Roberto Luongo gave up 3 goals in a miserable 3rd period.
But the club has been flashing an offense that could help claw out a playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. Frank Vatrano had a brilliant 4-point outing in the Panthers’ impressive win over powerful San Jose, and 23-year-old captain Aleksander Barkov Jr. earned 3 assists as the power play exploded for 3 goals in the final frame. The Russian skater’s 47 points are runner-up on the squad behind winger Jonathan Huberdeau’s 50.
Vegas at Florida: NHL Prediction and Best Bet
The Cats could be hard to deal with in the 1st and 2nd periods, and Luongo has the skills to match Flower and keep things tight in front of a raucous crowd. But I’m liking the legs of energetic Vegas forwards like Reilly Smith to hurt a tired Florida blue line in a decisive final 20:00.
Take the Golden Knights on the moneyline.
Image from Twitter.